Characterizing the Roles of Contributors in Open-source Scientific Software Projects
The development of scientific software is, more than ever, critical to the practice of science, and this is accompanied by a trend towards more open and collaborative efforts. Unfortunately, there has been little investigation into who is driving the evolution of such scientific software or how the collaboration happens. In this paper, we address this problem. We present an extensive analysis of seven open-source scientific software projects in order to develop an empirically-informed model of the development process. This analysis was complemented by a survey of 72 scientific software developers. In the majority of the projects, we found senior research staff (e.g. professors) to be responsible for half or more of commits (an average commit share of 72%) and heavily involved in architectural concerns (seniors were more likely to interact with files related to the build system, project meta-data, and developer documentation). Juniors (e.g. graduate students) also contribute substantially — in one studied project, juniors made almost 100% of its commits. Still, graduate students had the longest contribution periods among juniors (with 1.72 years of commit activity compared to 0.98 years for postdocs and 4 months for undergraduates). Moreover, we also found that third-party contributors are scarce, contributing for just one day for the project. The results from this study aim to help scientists to better understand their own projects, communities, and the contributors’ behavior, while paving the road for future software engineering research.
Mon 27 May Times are displayed in time zone: (GMT-04:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada) change
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Reed MilewiczSandia National Laboratories, Gustavo PintoUFPA, Paige Rodeghero University of Notre DamePre-print
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